The Baby Goth and I went to the Art Gallery of Ontario today. There’s a giant 20-foot version of the picture above plastered on the outside. (Because they have the Bowie exhibition, which you should go to if you’re in Toronto. It’s fun, if not transcendent. What I learned when I went: Bowie has a 26-inch waist. The costumes! They are so small!)
BG did a cartoon stop in front of Bowie, like someone put the brakes on him. After a moment of silent, slack-jawed staring, he turned to me and said, “What IS that?” We had a little convo about Bowie (yes, I know, it’s too Portlandia, isn’t it?). The takeaway for BG was: Bowie has two different coloured eyes. Bowie sings some good songs. Bowie has red and blue lightning on his face, and BG is a little concerned about whether it’s going to come off. We can’t see his nails, but maybe Bowie has silver toenails like Lily and BG do.
Then we went in, and our first stop was their family activity centre, where you can play and make art and read books. BG demands some paper and markers and then he writes his name. Then he writes, “Papa.”
So apparently this junior kindergarten thing is working.
I did not know he could write. I played it cool. I don’t know what I’m doing in this whole parenting thing, but I did once read an article that stuck with me that said, “praise the effort, not the outcome.” Because, you know, otherwise, you end up with entitled kids for whom life in the real world as a non-famous person is a crushing disappointment. So I told him he was doing a really good job holding the marker and concentrating so he could write.
But inside, yes, I was freaking out a little. I was going to take a picture and post it on Facebook, but then I calmed down and realized that everyone learns to write, and it’s not inherently an interesting phenomenon unless it’s happening to your kid.
Then BG asked if we could make a sign that said, “Welcome Lily.” Because a week ago, we made a sign lettered thusly in honour of Her Awesomeness’s arrival—she came bearing silver nail polish—but I did the lettering on that one. One week later, BG asked me to tell him each letter, and he wrote it.
Um, hello? Paging the Nobel committee. (Praise the effort, not the outcome!)
BG tired of his genius, so off we went, to see some miniature ships and some paintings of icebergs.
Then we went home and BG wrote signs welcoming various people to our house.
Later that night, after the standard epic bedtime struggle, I thought about the whole thing. It was difficult not to conclude that Bowie did in fact put the whammy on my kid, that as they stood there and stared at each other, Bowie somehow MADE HIM LITERATE.
But of course for that we must thank junior kindergarten teacher Mr. Brink, who works in the trenches every day with nary a museum exhibition mounted in his honour. Incidentally, BG pointed out later, during an impromptu Bowie video marathon, that Mr. Brink looks like Tin Machine era Bowie. They both play guitars (true) and they both have the same hair (sort of true).
I told BG that when he was baby, Mr. Mock and I liked to watch him sleep. In those colic-ridden months when BG would cry for six consecutive hours every night, we would sometimes find ourselves with a rare moment where he was asleep and we were not. We would drag our exhausted selves, feeling like husks of people rather than actual people, to his side and stare. Somehow, we got into this habit of singing Starman to him.
There’s a starman waiting in the sky.
He’d like to come and meet us, but he thinks he’d blow our minds.
There’s a starman waiting in the sky.
He’s told us not to blow it cause he knows it’s all worthwhile
BG now demands Starman at odd intervals, including bed time. I had to do a rendition when I kissed him goodbye this morning.
Mind blown. Trying not to blow it. That about sums up this whole parenting thing, doesn’t it?